Forgiving My John
Forgiving My John.
It looks like John Edwards is finally ready to admit his love child. After months of suspicions, according to sources, (like The Enquirer) Edwards took a DNA test that confirmed he has fathered a child with Rielle Hunter, the film producer with whom he had an extramarital affair a couple of years ago. Here is my question, who didn’t know that the baby was John Edwards’? We all knew. Why did he deny the child was his? He wasn’t fooling anyone, no one but Elizabeth.
That senseless paternity denial made me wonder, why do men deny their children? Paternal denial has been going on since the first affair, I would venture to say even though I don’t have any proof. What I think about is how detrimental and unfair it is to the child to be denied, especially publicly. What a legacy baby girl Edwards has to face when she comes of age. She will eventually find out that her daddy denied her. Just like I found out that mine once denied me.
Even though my parents were married, my father denied me also. I found out how serious his denial was when he came to live with me for about a year. My father was ill, not doing well at all. He is a Vietnam veteran and was suffering from various complications brought on by the constant reliving of the war. I brought him here to Columbia to get the help he desperately needed from Dorn VA Hospital.
While he was with me, my mother saw how it altered my life. I had to make arrangements for him to get him back and forth to the VA; I had to take time off from work; and I had to chill out with some of my dating (that was the real problem!) She later admitted that it hurt her to see me doing so for him when he had denied being my father before I was born. She said, “He even paid a lawyer to send me a letter saying you were not his child.” She still has that letter today.
I told my mother that I understand why it bothers her. But the fact is, he is my father. And if I would do all of this for him, when he hasn’t always been in my life, can you imagine what I would do for you?
I’m speaking to men: What makes you deny your child? The child is your own flesh and blood. That child is just as much you as you are yourself. Is it fear of loosing a current relationship? Is it fear of bringing reproach to your marriage, family, or other children? Is it fear of having to finally face the music of the lies your told, secrets you kept, people you hurt? I think that is the case for John Edwards. He didn’t want to loose his wife, his political career, his social standing. But even that really doesn’t make sense. By the time the affair came out, his political career was already in the dumps. His wife already knew. So why disgrace the child be denying her?
While I asked these questions of John Edwards, I found myself growing more and more curious about why my father denied me. So, I called his up. After a few minutes of chit-chat, I got to the point.
Me: Daddy, when you and my mother married, you denied being my father. Why did you do that?
Daddy, with very little hesitation: Crazy. Because I was crazy.
Me: Did you have any doubts that I was your child?
Daddy: No. Not a single doubt. I told you I was just crazy.
Me: But why, why did you do it? Was it that you were young and didn’t want to take responsibility?
Daddy: No, it wasn’t about the responsibility. See, all that happened when we were going through our divorce. I went to see a lawyer who told me I should say that. And I went along with it. I guess I was young and stupid.
Me: Do you regret it?
Daddy: Shine yeah! I regret it every day of my life. I think about that or something like that every day. That’s why I’m here by myself now. Remember you said your Ma said I was the only one who ever broker her heart? That tears me up every day. But I guess I have to pay for my actions. We all do. They come back, one way or another.
Me: Do you know that I forgive you?
Daddy: I sure hope you do.
Me: I do daddy. I forgive you.
As I sit here writing about this exchange I had with my father just 20 minutes ago, I think about all the children whose father denied them at one point in their lives or another. Regardless of what you believe is at stake, your child does not deserve to be denied. You did it. Accept it. Live up to it. Your child is not a lie.
Today’s I have forgiven my John. I forgave him a long time ago. The best part about it is, today he finally knows. And I hope his days and nights are now much easier to live.
Tomorrow: Part II - Moving Beyond My Bobby
Important Note: No daddies were hurt in the publishing of this blog. My daddy gave me his blessing to print OUR story. Even though he is not proud of what he did as a young man, he is man enough today to admit it, apologize for it, and is trying to move on. Edit
I don't know if this box can fit all the excuses that men deny their children. Certainly, it's rarely ever about the child itself. Men are artful at tucking away emotions. It is a useful survival skill. Hence, without that emotional connection to a child, a man is capable of almost anything.
Don't believe me, then let's go abroad to the Motherland where men are raping, maiming, and even killing children as young as a few months old. Or let's go to Asia where kids are working in sweat shops for very low pay and exploited in whore houses. Or let's stay here in the US where our legal system is treating pre-teens and teens as adult criminals.
I admit these examples are extreme compared to a statement of denial. But they more than prove that when a man lacks an emotional connection to a child, possibilities abound. On the flipside, add in the emotional connection and a man will take care of another man's child willingly. He will even forfeit his own life to protect a child.
My point here is that from a man's perspective there is often more to man's denial claim of his child and the signature of that claim is lack of emotional connection to the child. Certainly, from a denied child's perspective no reason will suffice. But at the end the day, the opportunity to start over is always available to that man and his child. Delete Reply
Mark: Thank you so much for your perspective! That makes so much sense. My mom read the blog yesterday and told me that even though she has moved on and is not angry, she does not forgive him. I guess just like he can deny paternity due to him lack of emotional attachment, she can not forgive because of her most intimate emotional attachment! I never thought about what you said... that's so much! Delete Reply